The news we all feared having to his this season came to life on Wednesday when the Yankees placed Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list with what they're calling, for now, inflammation in his right elbow. By going on the disabled list, Tanaka becomes the fourth starter in the Yankees' Opening Day rotation to his the DL.
If you have been paying attention to everything happening around the league over the past couple of years, a pitcher coming up with elbow pains is never a good sign, with most cases seemingly leading to dreaded Tommy John surgery. For now, we can only hold our collective breath that isn't the case with Tanaka, who leads the league in wins this season.
With Tanaka on the disabled list, the Yankees recalled outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton before the game. Almonte was actually in the lineup and listed on the roster before Tanaka was even placed on the DL, which left some mystery as to what the Yankees were going to do. Ultimately, they put him on the DL and with the All-Star break coming up, the Yankees might be lucky enough to only have Tanaka miss one start, which would this Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.
Tanaka was sent back to New York on Wednesday for an MRI after complaining about soreness in his elbow after Tuesday night's game, in which he gave up a season-high five runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Tanaka would now like to fly out to Seattle to be seen by Yankees' team team physician, Dr. Christopher Ahmad, who is at a conference of orthopedic surgeons in Seattle.
Both Brian McCann and Brett Gardner told reporters before the game on Wednesday that neither one of them saw anything out of the ordinary from Tanaka other than the fact that he was having a bad game on the mound.
11-1 with a league-leading 1.99 ERA in his first 14 starts of the season, Tanaka has been regressing lately, losing three of his last four outings, going 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA. Maybe it had something to do with this injury, or maybe it was just some fatigue setting in from pitching every four days in the majors, compared to once a week in Japan.
The Yankees can't miss this guy for any longer than a start or two. It's safe to say that should something bad happen to Tanaka, and -- dare I say -- Tommy John is eventually needed, the season is over and the Yankees would realistically have no chance of making a run at the playoffs.
Carlos Beltran was originally in the Yankees' lineup last night, but was scratched before the game after when a batted ball caromed off an L-screen and ricocheted back into his face. Beltran suffered two small facial fractures in his face, and it remains to be seen if the 37-year-old outfield will have to go on the DL.
Manager Joe Girardi stayed optimistic before the game, telling reporters that we could see in the lineup on Thursday for the series finale between the Yankees and Indians.
"I had a headache for the whole day but now it's getting better,'' Beltran said. "Hopefully tomorrow it will get better and I could be back soon, but I don't know what the team's going to do. With the concussion things, teams take that serious. Honestly, I don't feel like I have that. But at the end of the day, it's not my decision.''
Beltran missed the first two games of this four-game series because of some swelling in his knee. Wednesday was suppose to be his first game since Sunday, and now we'll have to see if he even plays tonight.